Client complaint management policy

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1 Client complaint management policy

2 1. Policy purpose This policy implements section 219A of the Public Service Act 2008 in the Department of Justice and Attorney-General (DJAG). Under this section, Queensland Government departments must implement an effective complaints management system that complies with any Australian Standard about the handling of customer complaints. DJAG s complaint management policy and procedures have also been developed according to the Public Service Act 2008, Guidelines for complaint management in organizations AS/NZS 10002:2014, and the Queensland Ombudsman s Guide to Developing Effective Complaints Management Policies and Procedures (2006). This policy sets the direction for client complaint management in DJAG. The Client complaint management procedures and the Information Privacy Complaint Management procedures set out the steps to successfully manage client complaints consistently, fairly, reasonably and on time. Our client complaint management system directly contributes to DJAG s strategic plan objective Queensland gets great service. 2. Policy statement DJAG is committed to delivering high quality services that respond to the community s needs. DJAG values the benefits of effective complaint handling. We believe our clients should be able to provide feedback (both positive and negative) about our services and the way we provide them. Effective complaint management is about accountability, access and business improvement and is an important part of our client service. Client-focused service delivery. Careful and prompt attention to complaints can help us understand the needs of our clients and stakeholders, prevent further problems, increase client satisfaction and improve performance. Good complaints management systems encourage client-focused service delivery. Business improvement. Complaints are a valuable source of feedback that help us find opportunities for staff and business improvement by using complaints data to identify areas where processes and systems can be improved. Business area managers will regularly review and analyse complaints to identify potential hot spots and areas for improvement. Helpful and flexible complaints management. DJAG will be alert to people who might require additional help or different approaches to make a complaint, such as people with disability, children, young people, people living in regional and remote areas, the aged and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. 3. Who does the policy apply to? This policy applies to: - all DJAG staff, including temporary staff, contractors and consultants, and - any other person who provides a service on a paid or voluntary basis to DJAG. 4. DJAG complaint management framework Our client complaint management system is part of a broader system for managing various types of complaints. Client complaint management policy Department of Justice and Attorney-General Page 2 of 11

3 Complaints are managed depending on the type of issue reported. Some areas of DJAG comply with additional policies and laws that support this framework in relation to specific services. This policy does not replace or override departmental policies and procedures regarding staff performance matters, corruption, disciplinary and grievance processes, or complaints dealt with under specific legislation. The diagram below shows the different processes for managing complaints in DJAG. Type of complaint Client complaints DJAG products and services Client complaints breaches of privacy Employee complaints Other complaints Definition / description An expression of dissatisfaction about a DJAG product, service (including how a DJAG officer provided that service), procedure, practice, policy or a breach of privacy. May involve, but are not limited to: employment circumstances; workplace harassment (including bullying); and sexual harassment. Some matters are specifically dealt with through legislative and/or appeal processes. These include things like judicial and tribunal decisions and decisions of an inspector (see full list at Appendix 2). Relevant policy DJAG Client complaint management policy (this policy). For the purpose of streamlining processes, the DJAG Client complaint management policy includes complaints about breaches of privacy. Employee complaints policy Please see DJAG s complaints management webpage for the appropriate processes to manage these matters. Relevant procedure DJAG Client complaint management procedures Find the procedures on DJAG s complaints management webpage. Right to Information and Privacy Unit Internal procedure for privacy complaints management. These procedures are specifically designed for issues that relate to the Information Privacy Act The RTI and Privacy Unit manages privacy complaints using these procedures. Employee complaints procedure 5. Scope What is a complaint under this policy? Under the Public Service Act 2008, section 219A (4), a customer complaint: (a) means a complaint about the service or action of a department, or its staff, by a person who is apparently directly affected by the service or action; and (b) includes, for example, a complaint about any of the following: - a decision made, or a failure to make a decision, by a public service employee of the department Client complaint management policy Department of Justice and Attorney-General Page 3 of 11

4 - an act, or failure to act, of the department - the formulation of a proposal or intention by the department - a recommendation made by the department - the customer service provided by a public service employee of the department. For the purposes of this policy, a complaint is also an expression of dissatisfaction about a breach of privacy. In scope This policy applies to: - complaints received from both external clients (i.e. the public) and internal clients (i.e. DJAG business areas providing services to other DJAG business areas) - complaints received anonymously - complaints received by ministerial or director-general correspondence or contact. Business areas are responsible for deciding if ministerial or director-general correspondence contains a complaint under this policy. It may be impracticable to record a complaint every time someone casually expresses dissatisfaction with an aspect of a service provided (or not provided). Local area managers are best placed to decide the level of complaints captured. Out of scope This policy does not cover decisions about how we interpret the law to decide matters such as decisions made by courts or tribunals, inspectors, commissioners, or denied requests for information. There are also other policies to deal with complaints regarding corruption or fraud, or complaints by public servants. Please see Appendix 2 for the out of scope complaints. 6. DJAG s client complaint management system There are five steps in DJAG s client complaint management system: Frontline complaints handling Internal complaints resolution External review 1. Receiving and handling 2. Internal assessment and resolution 3. Internal review 4. External review 5. Monitor, review and report Source: model adapted from the Queensland Ombudsman s guide to developing effective complaints management policies and procedures (2006). Steps 1, 2 and 5 are the usual steps followed when dealing with complaints covered by this policy. Steps 3 and 4 are followed as required or when requested. Once a complaint is resolved, the additional step of monitor and review is essential for business improvement and informed decision making. 7. Guiding principles DJAG s complaint management system is underpinned by the better practice complaint management principles the table below, which are outlined in the Guidelines for complaint management in organizations AS/NZS 10002:2014 and the Queensland Ombudsman s Guide to Developing Effective Complaints Management Policies and Procedures (2006). Client complaint management policy Department of Justice and Attorney-General Page 4 of 11

5 Principles People focus Visibility, transparency and access Responsiveness Objectivity and fairness What this means in DJAG Everyone has a right to complain. DJAG proactively seeks and receives feedback and complaints. People making complaints are treated with respect. Complainants are not adversely affected because of a complaint made by them or on their behalf. DJAG will accept complaints from representatives of clients, including family members, friends and other people or organisations that act in support of the person. Information about how and where a complaint may be made is well publicised on DJAG s websites and made available (both in writing and verbally) at frontline service locations. A complaint may be made to any employee of DJAG in person, by phone, , letter or using the online form on DJAG s websites. DJAG will provide all reasonable and practical help and support to make it easy for all complainants to make a complaint by recognising the particular needs of people, including people with disability, children, young people, people living in regional and remote areas, the aged and people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. A complainant will not be charged a fee to complain. Complaints are acknowledged promptly and responded to fairly, reasonably and in a timely manner. Anonymous complaints are treated like any other complaint. Staff are aware of the policy and procedures available on DJAG s websites and intranet. Adequate resources, including trained staff, are available to manage complaints. Complaints are recorded and tracked, timeframes for resolution are monitored and complainants are entitled to reasonable progress reports. Complaints are taken seriously and are handled fairly, objectively and without bias. Complaints are assessed and categorised on nominated criteria. Personal information is managed in line with the Information Privacy Act 2009 and ethical obligations Managing officers may refuse to investigate a complaint if it is considered to be abusive, trivial or unreasonable. The principles of natural justice and provision of avenues for review are applied to all complainants. Reviews of decisions will be made by people other than the original decision maker. Client complaint management policy Department of Justice and Attorney-General Page 5 of 11

6 Principles What this means in DJAG Adequate and timely feedback is provided to all complainants about the progress of their complaint, the outcome reached by DJAG and the reasons for DJAG s decision. Feedback Complainants are notified of available review mechanisms. If a complainant is unsatisfied with the outcome of their complaint they may request an internal review. If a complainant remains unsatisfied with the outcome after internal review, they may seek external review. DJAG will seek regular feedback about the way it manages complaints. Remedies Appropriate remedies that are fair to both the complainant and DJAG are offered. Complainants are able to request a remedy that is considered as the first option. Informal resolution and compromise is attempted wherever possible. Similar remedies are offered to all persons in a similar situation. The policy and procedures are reviewed annually to ensure relevance and effectiveness. Accountability, learning and prevention Training Mechanisms are in place to gather and record information to meet reporting requirements, identify complaint trends, monitor the time taken to resolve complaints and identify potential business improvements. Potential system improvements revealed by complaints are identified by the area responsible and reported regularly to the Board of Management. Information about complaint trends in DJAG will be published annually. All DJAG staff receive compulsory general complaints training, including on privacy and RTI and complete annual refresher training. DJAG complaint officers and managing officers receive additional compulsory complaint management training and complete annual refresher training. 8. Timeframes To make sure complaints are consistently and appropriately resolved, they are classified by complexity and issue. Complaints will be resolved within the timeframes that apply to the following levels of complexity: Complexity Classification Description Timeframe Simple A complaint that is resolved at the point of service. Resolved immediately at point of service. Standard Complex Privacy A complaint that usually has only one single issue or concern. A complaint that has multiple issues and/or is serious in nature and usually requires an extensive investigation. A complaint by an individual about an act or practice of DJAG in relation to the individual s personal information. Resolved within 30 working days of receipt. Resolved within 70 working days of receipt. Resolved within 45 working days of receipt. Client complaint management policy Department of Justice and Attorney-General Page 6 of 11

7 Please note: At any stage, it may be appropriate for a complaint s complexity to be escalated or downgraded in response to investigation findings or after the receipt of further information from the complainant. Complaint reclassification should be adequately recorded on both the complaint file and in the complaint register. Standard Ministerial and Director-General correspondence response times and processes will continue to apply to complaints received through ministerial or director-general correspondence or contact. Complaint issue categories To help DJAG to identify business improvement opportunities, complaints will be recorded according to the following categories: Classification Service delivery Staff conduct Administrative decision Description A complaint relating to how a service is provided including timeliness, quality or cost of the service. A complaint about an administrative decision and/or the behaviour of a staff member when providing a service. A complaint about a decision made by a DJAG officer when providing a service. Policy/ procedure Privacy A complaint about the process followed to provide a service. A complaint about a breach of DJAG s obligations under the Information Privacy Act 2009 which sets out the rules for proper handling of personal information, including how it is collected, stored, secured, accessed, amended, used and disclosed. 9. Privacy The Information Privacy Act 2009 outlines the rules for handling personal information, including how it is collected, stored, accessed, used and disclosed. An individual may lodge a complaint if they believe the department has breached their privacy by not complying with the information privacy principles contained in the Information Privacy Act All privacy complaints must be immediately referred to the Right to Information and Privacy Unit to manage. 10. Abusive, trivial, or unreasonable complainants Business areas may refuse to investigate a complaint if it is seen to be abusive, trivial, unreasonable, misleading, untrue or where the complainant refuses to cooperate with DJAG s efforts to investigate. The decision not to investigate will be made by the managing officer. If such a complaint is refused investigation, the complainant must be advised in writing that the department is not proceeding with the complaint. 11. Ministerial and Director-General correspondence Under this policy, business areas are responsible for deciding if a complaint received through the Ministerial and Director-General (MCAR/DCAR) correspondence process contains a complaint. Standard response times and processes continue to apply to these complaints, but the complaint must be recorded, tracked and reported as with other complaints under this policy. Client complaint management policy Department of Justice and Attorney-General Page 7 of 11

8 12. Reporting Internal Business areas will provide complaints reports to Corporate Governance for analysis and quarterly reporting to the Board of Management. Business managers will review complaints information and reports to identify and implement business improvements. External By 30 September each year, DJAG will publish on its website information about complaint trends for matters received during the financial year. 13. Management review of complaints management system Corporate Governance will review this policy, the complaints management procedures and systems for managing complaints annually and report on the results of the review to the Board of Management. The review will consider feedback from clients, including from annual complainant satisfaction surveys, staff feedback, the results of annual internal audits and any external audits, changes in policy, legislation or organisational structure and opportunities to use technological innovations. 14. References Public Service Act 2008 Information Privacy Act 2009 Guidelines for complaint management in organizations AS/NZS 10002:2014 Developing Effective Complaints Management Policy and Procedures, Queensland Ombudsman Effective Complaints Management Fact Sheets, 1-16, Queensland Ombudsman Code of conduct for the Queensland Public Service Department of Justice and Attorney-General: Workplace Policy Department of Justice and Attorney-General: Public Interest Disclosure Policy Version history Version Notes Author Date of change 1.0 Improvements suggested by Director, Corporate Governance 19 November 2012 Queensland Ombudsman and Internal Audit Unit 2.0 Feedback included Corporate Governance Unit 8 February To incorporate legislation changes to Public Service Act 2008; respond to the Carmody Inquiry Child Protection recommendations; Response to audit by Queensland Ombudsman in 2013 Corporate Governance Unit 30 June 2015 Client complaint management policy Department of Justice and Attorney-General Page 8 of 11

9 Appendix 1 Procedures for client complaints in scope of this policy Client complaint management policy Complaints about: a DJAG product, service (including how a DJAG officer provided a service), procedure, practice or policy Complaints about: breaches of privacy Except in cases where the managing officer identifies performance management or misconduct issues DJAG client complaint management procedures and Ministerial and Director-General correspondence procedures (if relevant) DJAG business areas Information privacy complaint management procedures RTI and Privacy Unit If disciplinary action, performance management or re-training is required, supervisor/manager works with Human Resources. Human Resources Any suspected fraud, corruption or official misconduct must be referred directly to the Executive Director, Ethical Standards Unit (Crime and Corruption Commission Liaison Officer). Ethical Standards Unit There may be some crossover of complaints covered by this policy. For example, a complaint about a DJAG service may also involve a breach of privacy. In these cases, business areas need to work with the relevant area (e.g. RTI and Privacy Unit) to effectively resolve the complaint. The Ethical Standards Unit will ensure suspected fraud, corruption or official misconduct is reported to the Queensland Police, Auditor-General or Crime and Corruption Commission as required. External Client complaint management policy Department of Justice and Attorney-General Page 9 of 11

10 Appendix 2 Complaints outside the scope of this policy This policy does not include a range of decisions made under specific legislation, including decisions made by the following: a judge or tribunal a prosecutor about a legal or court proceeding a registrar or Justice of the Peace acting in a quasi-judicial role the Public Guardian a referee about decisions under the Building Units and Group Titles Act 1980 a dispute resolution officer, the commissioner or commissioner s delegate exercising their functions under the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997, and the Legal Services Commissioner or the commissioner s delegate about complaints under the Legal Profession Act Other matters outside the scope of this policy are: a licensing decision (e.g. for an electrical license) an inspector s decision (e.g. a liquor, gaming, or fair trading decision) complaints about a lawyer decisions about assistance under the Victims of Crime Act 2009 consumer complaints about faulty goods or unscrupulous traders allegations against employees involving suspected misconduct, including official misconduct, maladministration or public interest disclosures, and denied RTI (right to information) or IP (information privacy) access or amendment applications. See the department s complaints webpage at for information about resolving out-of-scope matters. Client complaint management policy Department of Justice and Attorney-General Page 10 of 11

11 Appendix 3 Definitions Term Definition Anonymous complaint A complaint received from a complainant who does not wish to identify themselves. An anonymous complaint must be recorded and every attempt made to resolve it. Complainant Any person who lodges a complaint with the Department of Justice and Attorney- General. Complaint Complaint officer Complex complaint External complaint Internal complaint Internal review officer Investigation External review officer Managing officer Receiving officer Record of complaint Simple complaint Standard complaint Vexatious complaint An expression of dissatisfaction, either verbally or in writing, from a member of the public or from a DJAG staff member about DJAG staff conduct, a service, procedure, practice or policy. A complaint considered to be trivial or vexatious may be refused investigation by a business area. The business area director or manager must be consulted before this decision is made. An employee appointed by a managing officer to resolve complaints. A complaint that has multiple issues and/or is serious in nature and usually requires an extensive investigation. A complaint received from a member of the public, or a staff member who is acting as a member of the public rather than as an employee of DJAG. A complaint received from DJAG officer. A DJAG officer that manages the review of a complaint, decision or outcome at the request of a complainant. **This officer is from the relevant business area but must not have been involved in the initial complaint investigation. Reviewing an action or activity in response to a standard or complex complaint. A DJAG employee external to the relevant business area appointed by the Director- General, a Deputy Director-General or Assistant Director-General to resolve an issue that cannot be resolved within a business area. A line manager or other senior employee appointed by a director or manager to oversee the complaint management system. This can be the business area manager. Any employee who receives a complaint. The documented record of a complaint received verbally (using a manual complaint form). A complaint that is resolved at the point of service. A complaint that usually has only one single issue or concern. A complaint intended to harass, annoy, delay or cause detriment. Client complaint management policy Department of Justice and Attorney-General Page 11 of 11

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